Almost two years to go and we are already bombarded with news and opinions about the 2016 election. Apparently politics and government have become the most important thing in America. The news organizations dwell on the utterances of the chief executive as if he were Moses. Politicians of all persuasions are featured in the news. The government’s many social initiatives are covered microscopically in the media. Much of the nation appears to worship the state. It’s as if our government, the bureaucrats and the politicians have become our saviors.
Frankly, it’s sickening. A growing government threatens to diminish our freedoms and exterminate our prosperity. We are so far down the road to socialism, there appears to be no turning back. Apparently, the majority have drank the Kool-Aid. So prepare to be inundated with political news and unending praise for the government and its programs.
The great Austrian School economist Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) understood the evils of big government. He wrote, “Government means always coercion and compulsion and is by necessity the opposite of liberty.” On government redistribution he wrote, “The truth is the government cannot give if it does not take from somebody.” He exposed the government’s shortcomings. “Daily experience proves clearly to everybody but the most bigoted fanatics of socialism that government management is inefficient and wasteful.”
Mises explained the growth of government this way: “The essence of statism is to take from one group in order to give to another. The more it can take, the more it can give. It is to the interest of those whom the government wishes to favor that the state becomes as large as possible.” Mises also explained why we are subjected to a constant steam of political propaganda. “It is characteristic of current political thinking to welcome every suggestion which aims at enlarging the influence of government.”
Where is this public love affair with big government taking us? We can tune out the media blitz, but we can’t undo the damage from the inroads of liberalism and socialism. For me the inevitable outcome is national bankruptcy. Out of that can come either a reduced leviathan and a rebirth of freedom, or some sort of supersized government police state. As Mises reminds us, “Liberty is always freedom from government.”
Mises understood that there must always be government. It was the degree the state intervened in economic freedom that was the litmus test. The proper role of good government was to protect the citizens from criminals, defend against foreign enemies and ensure the smooth operation of the market economy. These limitations are ignored today. To which Mises warned, “There is no hope left for a civilization when the masses favor harmful policies.”